Christmas at stately Romans Manor was a somewhat toned-down affair this year. Still, the smell of cooking Christmas treats and entrees permeated the massive 1,200-square-foot manse, and lingered in the eaves of the cavernous 8-foot ceilings like so many delicious memories of years past.

This served to give those gathered (the immediate family) waking visions of, if not sugar plums, then at least glazed ham and generously buttered mashed potatoes and bread rolls. Certainly, in all of Christmas celebration history, there is a counterpart to the Sugar Plum Fairy who represents these things. It was a different, though altogether a successful, if somewhat pandemic-reduced holiday season of which I enjoyed taking part.

Yes, after the feast I was once again grateful that robes are not fashioned with anything as restrictive as buttons or clasps but are merely wraparound affairs accompanied by a “belt” which need not even be tied. In fact, said robe lacks even the disturbingly judgmental holes one must “adjust” after a fine meal; quite a bit of arrogance, I’d say, for something with no more proper a name than “hole.” As I awoke on the quite chilly post-Christmas morn, I unapologetically refused to dress for the day and simply donned my rather accommodating (and dimensionally forgiving) robe and sought out the coffee pot.

After a short period of time, my wife asked me what I would like by way of breakfast. Given that the larder was still quite filled with the remains of the holiday meals and assorted treats, I was in something of a quandary. The possibilities at least seemed endless, though seriously skewed toward something containing a ham product. I knew this from recent memory because, unknown to my wife, I had slipped silently to the kitchen in the wee hours of the morning for what could, only through deliberate trivialization, be termed a “snack.” Let us just say that sandwiches were made and move on.

After considering quite an extensive list of possibilities, I at last determined that I would like something sweet and decided upon cinnamon rolls. Yes, I admit that with several readily consumables on the list, I in fact chose the option which required my wife to once again cook. Not my finest hour, perhaps, but I am sure she could attest to worse. Then, settled in with my indulgent robe and the sweet breakfast which no doubt would help to ensure its use in the future, I turned on my computer to see how the rest of the world beyond stately Romans Manor fared. And as I ate, I began to wonder what everyone else might be having for breakfast on such a fine morning ... and then I wondered how many might not be having breakfast at all.

There have been numerous studies conducted on the subject, complete with charts, projections and determinations. We call it by clever names like “insecurity” and “deficit.” We make laws against it, we hide behind initiatives and collaborations, but none of us call it by its real name unless it is buried within an (ironically) palatable phrase. We never truly say the word “HUNGER” as it should be said, with capital letters that dominate our vision. We never address it like the scourge it is, a completely preventable curse under which so many live. No, it conveniently becomes someone else’s problem, and someone else’s responsibility to fix, as though it could be reduced to the level of a flat tire or broken window.

All of the things I just mentioned, though far from adequate, are important steps to solving the problem of hunger. But more needs to be done, and we are the ones who need to be doing it. To be quite honest, I don’t feel guilty that I ate more than was necessary this holiday because it shows that at least for the moment I have beaten hunger in my life. But it isn’t about guilt, and never has been. It is for one thing about realizing how fortunate I have been and appreciating that. And then it is about recognizing that there are millions of people who have not been as fortunate as me, millions who are losing their daily battles with hunger.

But perhaps the most important thing that I — we — should realize is that we can do something about it. There are a host of reasons why people are hungry ranging from geography to poor personal choices. Sometimes, unfortunately, there are no definable reasons at all. But these reasons mean less to me than the results. It is up to the social agencies to determine the causes, and as social agencies to attempt to craft a larger solution. For me, for us, the concern is much more basic. People — people just like you and me — are living with HUNGER. And each of us should try to eliminate as much of that as is within our power.

Fortunately, there are a lot of us. There are so many of us in fact that if we could each donate the equivalent of a sandwich (I ate two just last night) then “HUNGER” would quickly become “hunger.” And if we can start that and keep it up, then one aspect at least of the days of human suffering would be well on its way to being over. And then, perhaps, “Our days will be merry and bright …”

White Christmas or not, wouldn’t that be a wonderful holiday — or any — season? In the meantime, the gates of stately Romans Manor are always open. And, at least for now, I have sandwiches if you need one. Sorry, the cinnamon rolls were gone before I even started typing.

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